The Best Travel Nursing Specialties in 2017

There is no better time to be a nurse.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing jobs are expected to increase by roughly half a million between 2014 and 2024. On top of that, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing found that 55% of the nursing workforce is 50 years old or older.

In the next 10 to 15 years over a million of these nurses are going to start retiring.

By 2030 the number of senior citizens will have increased by 69 million. One in five Americans will be considered a senior.

So what does this mean for travel nurses? There is a growing demand for nurses and plenty of opportunities to get paid and see the country.

While there are certain specialties that hospitals are constantly looking for, the following seven specialties are in high demand and perfect for travel nurses to pursue.


Taking a job in medical surgery prepares you to work in other specialties. Many hospitals hire newer nurses for Medical Surgical (MedSurg) positions because it is a great foundation to start your career in nursing.

While this specialty comes with a lot of responsibility, Medsurg nurses are sure to never get bored. They are expected to care for patients of all age with various conditions so be ready to run and learn on the go. During a single shift, you might be starting an IV, changing another, dressing an animal wound or assisting a patient having an asthmatic attack.

Nurses who are critical thinkers, comfortable with making decisions, and enjoy being on their feet will do well in MedSurg. People skills are also a must in this position. Medsug nurses not only spend a lot of time interacting with their patients but with their patients’ family members as well.

To qualify, a nurse must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (RCLEX-RN) as well as be licensed in their state of practice. Nurses should also consider becoming certified in Medical Surgical nursing especially if they plan on sticking to Medical Surgery for a while.

Click here to view open Medical Surgical RN assignments.


ICU Nurses are considered the creme de la creme of nurses. They are in charge of looking after patients who have experienced invasive surgery, accidents, trauma or organ failure.

Nurses in this position are responsible for carefully monitoring and assessing a patient’s progress and must be able to have the knowledge and confidence to act when a sudden change occurs in a patient’s condition that requires emergency intervention.

ICU nurses are also responsible for managing patients’ medication doses, anesthesia, and their ventilatory support. From starting IVs to handling cardiac arrests, ICU nurses have to be ready to tackle both life-threatening and day to day tasks.

To work in the ICU, nurses have to pass their NCLEX-RN and have to be licensed in their state of practice. They also need to have top notch clinical skills and at least one year of general clinical experience. All ICU nurses are expected to have their BLS/CPR certification, ACLS, and other core competencies specific to their ICU unit. If you are considering becoming an ICU travel nurse, be prepared to learn how to use new equipment as it is not standardized from hospital to hospital.

ICU nurses also may want to consider becoming a CCRN (Critical Care Nurse). Certified nurses have a huge advantage because they can work in a variety of ICU units such as pediatric ICUs, neonatal ICUs, cardiac care units, telemetry units, progressive care units and even in emergency departments, and recovery rooms.

Click here to view open ICU RN assignments.


Being an OR nurse comes with a lot of responsibility. Because the Operating Room is one of the most delicate of hospital environments, it takes highly skilled nurses to ensure it remains both clean and aseptic at all times.

Successful OR nurses are not only knowledgeable and compassionate but they also keep the patient’s best interests at heart. Because OR nurses can act as a patient advocate when they are unconscious, you must be confident in your ability to speak up when needed for patient safety issues or ethics. In addition to patient safety and advocacy, OR nurses are best known for collaborating with surgeons in the Operating Room. Almost all tasks fall under the assigned roles of a scrub nurse or a circulator nurse.

Circulator nurses oversee patient care before, during and after a procedure within their assigned OR suite. They are responsible for setting up the room, interviewing the patient, assisting the CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) and monitoring and documenting the surgical case. The circulator nurse also acts as a patient’s advocate during the operative procedure by communicating with the patient’s family members. Additionally, circulator nurses help with scrub ins, assist the anesthesiologist during the operation, review a patient’s medical record, as well as document their vitals, fluids, and blood loss.

Scrub nurses, on the other hand, help the surgeon during the procedure. During an operation, they assist with passing instruments, closing wounds, and maintaining sharps and gauze counts. While this role can be extremely rewarding the OR is definitely not the place for every nurse. Because the sterile field must be maintained at all times in the OR, nurses should expect to spend hours on their feet without a break. Another necessary evil is taking a call. Generally, nurses who work in the OR take at least one call rotation and must be ready to report to the hospital at any time. However, if you can withstand these stresses, traveling as an OR nurse can prove to be a highly exciting job.

Like other specialties, nurses must have an Associate’s and/or a Bachelor’s plus two years of nursing experience before working in the OR. They are also required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and be licensed in their state of practice. OR nurses must have basic certifications like BLS (Basic Life Support) and CPR. They are also expected to become certified in ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support), PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certification), and TNCC (Trauma Nursing Core Course).


CVOR nurses are specialized in cardiovascular surgery. They work with patients before, during and after a surgical procedure. During operations, a CVOR nurse helps in sedating the patient and assists the surgeon during the procedure by administering medications, monitoring vital signs and applying dressings. The CVOR nurse is also in charge of making sure that sterile procedures are followed, and that the necessary equipment and medications are available.

To be successful in this specialty, a nurse should be good at clinical problem solving and interfacing with patients. Aside from requiring a degree in nursing, passing the NCLEX-RN exam, and be licensed in their state, the majority of CVOR nursing positions also require nurses to have a BLS certification and prefer they have the CNOR, ACLS and PALS certifications as well.

Click here to view open CVOR RN assignments.


Telemetry nurses work with patients that require special monitoring, including those recently released from intensive care. These patients often are at a high risk for complications, so telemetry nurses must be quick to identify and take action based on monitor readings.

This is a fast-paced specialty since telemetry nurses need to quickly respond to a variety of problems, ranging from dangerous cardiac rhythms to acute neurological disorders.

Nurses working in telemetry should be prepared to carry out more traditional nursing duties such as administering medications and communicating with patients regarding their condition. While this position can be very rewarding, telemetry nurses often working long shifts, nights, weekends and holidays. In addition to having an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and passing the NCLEX-RN as well as being licensed in their state of practice, telemetry nurses must be independent, organized, and comfortable with structure.

Click here to view open Telemetry RN assignments.


LTAC (Long Term Acute Care) nurses serve patients with complex medical needs who require long-term hospital care. If you are considering becoming a LTAC nurse, you should enjoy bedside care as these nurses spend a lot of time giving their patients baths, helping them eat and interacting with their families.

Because their patients’ treatments will differ from each other, nurses working in LTAC units have to be open to learning something new on a day to day basis. This specialty is perfect for nurses who are quick on their feet, enjoy solving conflicts, and who have excellent time management.

In addition to having an Associate’s and Bachelor’s in Nursing, passing the NCLEX-RN and a license to practice in their state, LTAC nurses are encouraged to become certified in CCRN, CCNRN-E (Tele-ICU Acute/Critical Care Nursing) and ACNPC-AG (Adult Gerontology). Because of a nurse shortage, many hospitals now offer acute care orientation and internship programs for nurses who are interested in becoming a LTAC nurse.


For nurses looking for a challenge, psychiatric nursing may be the perfect specialty. Nurses in this field will find job opportunities at some of the best hospitals in the country.

PMHN (psychiatric mental health nurses) have a variety of roles and work in various settings. PMHN nurses can expect to interact with individuals, their families, and any groups involved in helping a patient get the mental health care they need. In this role you should expect to be very hands on with your patient, assessing their mental health needs, developing appropriate diagnoses and implementing for effective outcomes.

A further subset of this nursing specialty is PMH-APRNs (Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses). These nurses work directly with patients who mental disorders. They practice at a more advanced level, so they need more advanced schooling.

The minimum educational requirement for a PNHN is an Associate’s degree, passing the NCLEX-RN and a nursing license in their state of practice. However, most job prospects prefer a Bachelor’s degree. Nurses that have taken several mental health courses are looked upon favorably.

Click here to view open Psychiatric RN assignments.


No matter what your specialty is, hospitals love well-educated nurses. Travel nurses who have a BSN definitely have a step up on the competition. At least a year’s worth of training in a specialty will help you land positions you want, too. Finally, getting certified and staying up on certifications in your specialties can be a huge help.

Already have a specialty and looking to start traveling? Check up BlueForce’s current travel nursing jobs today!